This year’s Top 5 includes only fiction by women, ranging from dystopias – in a world where reproductive rights no longer exist; where human women are extinct; where classism dictates life for everyone – to magical realism to fantasy inspired by folklore.
In 2018 my reading became much more intentional: permission not to read certain things, and a focus on marginalized voices and stories. It’s been rough these last two years, trying to reconcile the world as I would like it to be against the world as it is. Reading has helped to stanch the anger, up to a point. Band-Aid on a bullet wound really…
For those interested, here’s my complete reading list for 2018.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
Asks readers to think about who has control over women’s bodies – the woman herself or those in power (who are predominately white men). Obviously relevant, not only in our present time, but in any time, wherever women exist… I find it hilarious and sad when I read a review along the lines of, this is ridiculous, this could never happen. Pffft. Just wait and see.
You should read this if you like: The Handmaid’s Tale; reproductive rights; dystopian fiction; feminism; science fiction that tackles real-world issues
The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley
Published: 9/1/2014 in London
Thanks to my daughter I’ve learned SO MUCH about gender and gender norms, and the damage they cause, not just to women. (For the record, I’m still learning, every day.) What I liked most about The Beauty is how much it asks its readers to think about. For example, what is “woman” and her many roles (lover, wife, mother, sister, teacher, storyteller)? And what would happen to men if there were no more women?
You should read this if you like: “The Screwfly Solution”; feminism; dystopian fiction; science fiction; (not too graphic) body horror; mushrooms 🤣
The Memory Trees by Kali Wallace
Full disclosure: I think Kali Wallace is severely underrated — a hidden gem in YA fiction, if I do say so myself. Every time someone mentions Raising Stony Mayhall, I’m like, have you read Shallow Graves?! Now it’s gonna be a case of, whenever someone recommends The Mystery of Hollow Places, I’m gonna
push calmly recommend The Memory Trees.
You should read this if you like: matriarchal families; centuries’ long small town feuds; women accused of witchcraft; magical realism; apple orchards; Vermont
Yesterday by Felicia Yap
I’m fascinated by an endless number of things about humans — memory and time are at the top of that list. So after I read the blurb’s opening line — ” Imagine a world in which classes are divided not by wealth or religion but by how much each group can remember.” — I was in!
You should read this if you like: Before I Go to Sleep; The Breakdown; psychological thrillers; amnesia / memory-loss thrillers; unlikeable characters
Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
“A contemporary fairy tale that is inspired in part by a Senegalese folk tale.”
Dr. Lord is another author I find woefully under-read. I can’t understand why more people don’t a) know about her work and/or b) read it! Very frustrating. Redemption in Indigo is probably her most popular book (to date), and I can’t wait to re-read it again.
You should read this if you like: stories within stories; wives with agency; fairy tales; African myths; Caribbean myths; snarky narrators
I’d love to hear about the best books you read in 2018, so please feel free to share your favorites in the comment box. They can be from any genre, published in any year; the only stipulation is that you read the book sometime during 2018.
Photo credit: martinak on 123rf
Post history notes: Drafted 12/28/2018; First published on my blog 7/31/2019; Last updated 9/24/2019